January shape-up – Five easy tips for a good-looking garden

January is all about getting the garden back into shape after some benign holiday neglect. Here are five easy ways to do it.

Start 2022 with a splash of bright, happy colour. Pentas Glitterati is a heat-hardy, non-stop flowering perennial that shows off beautifully in summer patio pots or garden combinations.

Choose from ‘Red Star’ which has shimmering clusters of  red and white star-like flowers or ‘Purple Star’ that has equally striking purple and white starred flowers. Plants stay compact, growing 30 to 40 cm tall with an almost equal spread, easily filling a large container.

Plant in a large container that gets plenty of morning sun and afternoon shade or as a garden plant in in mixed borders. To be a feature within a bed, plant three together for impact.

Tidy up: Life always feels more under control when the garden is neat! Cutting back or thinning out provides extra space and light for plants to thrive. It is also a good time to divide spring flowering perennials like Irises, scabiosa, Shasta daisies  and Michaelmas daisies. Heat frazzled petunias and pansies can be replaced with marigolds, vinca, portulaca, gazania, cornflowers, California poppies, nasturtiums, salvia, sunflowers, and zinnias. All these form part of the Kirchhoffs heirloom flower seed range.

Heat-proof the lawn by letting it grow slightly longer and only mow every second week. This allows it to establish deeper roots and the longer grass blades also shade the roots.

Refresh the veggie garden. A summer sowing of Swiss chard this month will yield a fresh crop just as the spring crop starts to get tired.

Our favourite is the Kirchhoffs Swiss Chard mix with its brilliantly coloured pink, yellow, orange, red and white stems. It is pretty enough to plant in the flower garden

Baby spinach ‘Lazio’ is ideal for baby leaf salads, as well as stir fries. The leaves are ready for harvest within 35 days. Snip the leaves with scissors. Although plants will grow again it is easier to sow in succession (every two to three weeks) to ensure a constant crop. It too needs full sun, and fertile moist soil.

To grow:

Sow directly into the soil or into seed trays.

Plant out into well composted soil in a position that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Plants grow quickly and the more you cut the better they produce. Harvest two or three of outer, large leaves per plant at a time.

Water frequently.

Fertilise summer flowers and shrubs as a boost to keep them going through summer. Ludwig’s Vigorosa 5:1:5 (25) is a granular fertiliser for flowers, shrubs and lawns and Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger is a liquid fertiliser for container plants and newly planted flowers and vegetables. 

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